UN chief rejects reports about his alleged interest in presidency

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NEW YORK, Nov 5 – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday disavowed recent news reports that he has indirectly expressed interest in running for president of South Korea.

Ban, a former South Korean foreign minister, has long been talked about as a potential candidate, though he never made any mention of such a possibility. A recent opinion poll showed he is the most favored among potential candidates for the 2017 presidential election.

Last week, a group of lawmakers from South Korea’s ruling Saenuri Party held a seminar and talked openly about the possibility of Ban running as the party’s candidate. Earlier this week, some opposition politicians also claimed that a person close to Ban approached them about the possibility of Ban running on an opposition ticket.

“Some politicians and media have been carrying reports suggesting Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s interest in future domestic politics. But Secretary-General Ban makes it clear that he knows nothing at all (about these reports) and they are not true,” a statement from Ban’s office said.

The statement was distributed via South Korea’s mission to the United Nations.

Such reports are feared to possibly hobble Ban as he devotes his energy to a series of global challenges, such as the Ebola virus, because unnecessary questions could be raised from U.N. member states and employees of the U.N. Secretariat, the statement said.

“Secretary-General Ban has consistently stated his position that it is inappropriate to link the U.N. secretary-general, who is supposed to speak for interests of the international community from an impartial position, to domestic political issues regardless of his intentions,” the statement said.

“We earnestly ask again for restraint in reports on domestic politics (involving Ban), including opinion surveys,” it said. “Secretary-General Ban is deeply grateful to the consistent support South Korea’s government and people have given him for the last eight years and will do his best to carry out his duties as U.N. secretary-general.”